Child talking on the radio

What Can You Do
with a Ham Radio License?

It is truly amazing to think about all the different aspects of amateur radio. Every so often, a new branch of the hobby comes along. We decided to make a list of all the different aspects of ham radio we could think of. Below is the result of
our efforts.

Of course, there are innumerable web sites about the all various ham radio topics. The links below are just a few, intended to introduce the topic more than teach you all the details. If you have a topic we’ve missed or a favorite web site you think should be included, send us a note at

Amateur Television (ATV)
Amateur television is just what it sounds like; transmitting and receiving both video and audio over amateur frequencies. Transmit yourself, your shack, a favorite how-to video, remote images from a repeater site or a drone. The possibilities are endless.
•    MDARC’s ATV page:
•    ARRL’s ATV page:
•    The DATV-Express Project:
•    Amateur Television Network:
•    Wikipedia’s Amateur television page:

Perhaps the single most important component in you rig is the antenna. Design you favorite antenna, build one, tune it, experiment with various styles and methods.
•    ARRL’s Antenna Introduction:
•    ARRL’s Antenna Modeling Introduction:
•    HamUniverse’s Basic Yagi Design:
•    Pacificon’s Annual Antenna Seminar:

Auctions, Swap Meets
Want to pick up some gear cheap? Have some extra stuff you don't need anymore? These are the places to take care of that.
•    MDARC’s annual auction:
•    Pacificon’s annual swap meet:
•    Electronics Flea Market at De Anza College, Cupertino, CA:

Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS)
A system for reporting the location of amateur radio stations in real time. Other information, such as weather information, can also be transmitted.
•    ARRL’s APRS page:
•    Wikipedia’s APRS page:
•    APRS Mapping page:

•    ARRL Awards page:
•    DXCC:
        Awarded for confirmed contacts with 100 countries.
•    Worked All States:
        Awarded for confirmed contacts in all 50 U.S. states.
•    VHF/UHF Century Club:
        Awarded for contact with a minimum number of Maidenhead grid locators per band. Requirements vary by band.
•    The Triple Play WAS (Worked All States):
        Awarded for confirmed contacts in all 50 U.S. states on voice, CW, and digital modes.
•    Fred Fish Memorial Award:
        Awarded for confirmed contacts in all 488 Maidenhead grid squares in the 48 contiguous United States on 6 Meters.

Beacons transmit continuously from a fixed location on a specific frequency, allowing others to whether they will be able to hear other stations from that area.
•    NCDXF/IARU International Beacon Project:
•    Reverse Beacon Network:

Clubs, Organizations
If you're not in one, join one (or more) now.
•    Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL):
•    Mt. Diablo Amateur Radio Club (MDARC):
•    International Amateur Radio Union (IARU):
•    MDARC list of amateur radio clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Northern California and Nevada:
•    MDARC list of other amateur radio organizations:

Conferences, Conventions, Hamfests
•    ARRL Hamfests & Conventions Calendar Search:
•    PACIFICON, San Ramon, CA:
•    Dayton Hamvention, Dayton, Ohio:
•    International DX Convention, Visalia, CA:
•    Nevada State Convention:
•    Sea-Pac, Portland, OR:

•    ARRL Contests page:
•    ARRL Contest Calendar:
•    MDARC’s DX & Contests page:

Continuous Wave (CW) Communications
•    See Morse Code

Coordination, Band Planning
•    Northern Amateur Relay Council of California, Inc. (NARCC):
•    Northern California Digital Coordination Council (NCDCC):
•    Northern California Packet Association (NCPA):
•    National Frequency Coordinator's Council (NFCC):

Digital Communications
•    AllStar Link
•    Digital Mobile Radio (DMR)
    o    MDARC’s DMR page:
    o    Northern California DMR:
    o    Motorola Amateur Radio Club International Network (DMR_MARC):
•    D-Star (mostly Icom)
    o    MDARC’s D-Star page:
    o    D-Star Users:
•    Echolink:
    o    MDARC’s Echolink & IRLP page:
    o    Echolink home page:
•   High-Speed Multimedia Networks (HSMM)
    o    Broadband-Hamnet:
    o    Wikipedia article:
•    Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP):
    o    MDARC’s Echolink & IRLP page:
    o    IRLP home page:
•    Wide-Coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System (WIRES-II) (Yeasu proprietary)
    o    WIRES Introduction:
    o    WIRES Active ID List:

•    Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) (see
Automatic Packet Reporting System)
•    Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS)/Fldigi:
NBEMS is an open source software suite that allows hams to reliably send and receive data using nearly any computer and any analog radio without requiring a dedicated digital infrastructure or specialized modem hardware. NBEMS works on both VHF/UHF FM and on HF.
    o    MDARC’s NBEMS page:
•    D-RATS
    o    D-StarInfo page:
    o    Getting Started with D-RATS (PDF, 1.1 MB):
    o    D-RATS Operating Guide:
•    Packet, RTTY
    o    Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS)
(see Automatic Packet Reporting System)
    o    Tucson Amateur Radio Packet (TAPR):
Distance Communications (DX)
•    ARRL’s Chasing DX page:
•    MDARC’s DX & Contests page:
•    Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS)
    o    ARRL page:
    o    QSL-Net page:

Education & Training
•    License Classes
    o    MDARC’s Education & Training page:
•    Teacher Training
    o    Gordon West’s Ham Instructor Academy:

•    ARRL’s Mentoring page:

Emergency Communications (EmComm)
•    Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES):
•    Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS)
    o    California state ACS:
    o    Contra Costa County ACS:
•    Radio Amateur Emergency Communications Service (RACES):
•    Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN):
•    SHAred RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) Radio Program:
•    MDARC’s Emergency Communications page:

•    Equipment Testing
    o    ARRL’s Test Procedures Manual (PDF, 161 pages):

Eye-Ball QSOs
•    MDARC Club meetings:
•    Other amateur radio clubs:
•    See also: Conferences, Conventions, Hamfests.

Field Day
•    MDARC’s Field Day page:
•    ARRL’s Field Day page:

Kit Building/ Do It Yourself (DIY)/ Maker
•    Tucson Amateur Radio Packet (TAPR):
•    Maker Faire:
•    Computer-Radio Interfacing
    o    Arduino Microcontroller
        - Introduction to the Arduino Microcontroller; QST magazine, November, 2015, pages 30-32
•    See also: Antennas
See also: Repeaters
License Testing
Volunteer Examiners (VE) facilitate the testing of those candidates that wish to get an initial license or upgrade their present license. If you hold a General Class or higher license, you can be a VE.
•    MDARC License Testing:
•    ARRL Volunteer Examiners (VE):
•    W5YI Volunteer Examiners (VE):

Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS)
The U.S. Military Auxiliary Radio System (AMARS) is a group of citizen volunteers who support the Department of Defense (DoD) in a variety of circumstances, including complex catastrophes and cyber denied or impaired conditions.  MARS is a DoD program that trains, organizes and tasks volunteer Amateur Radio operators.
•    U.S. Army MARS:
•    U.S. Army MARS Public Site:
•    U.S. Air Force MARS:

Morse Code
•    ARRL CW page:
•    MDARC’s Morse Code page:
•    ARRL’s Learning Morse Code page:

Museums, Historical Organizations
•    California Historical Radio Society (CHRS):
•    Maritime Radio Historical Society:

Near-Ham Operations
•    See also: Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS)
•    Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS)
    o    California Communications Reserve Unit (CRU):
•    Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
    o    FEMA Course: Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams:

•    MDARC’s Nets on MDARC Systems page:
•    MDARC’s Nets on Other Systems page:
•    National Traffic System (NTS):

Newsletters, Magazines
•    Carrier, MDARC’s newsletter:
•    QST magazine:
•    CQ magazine:

Public Service
•    MDARC’s Public Service Events page:

QRP (Low power operation)
•    ARRL’s QRP page:
•    NorCal QRP:
•    Pacificon's QRP page:

QSL Card Collecting
•    QSL Card Checking:
•    W1AW Card Processing:

Radio Control (RC)
•    A Radio Control Primer:
•    Fly Your Radio:

•    MDARC's Repeater Systems section:
•    Repeater control
    o    ARRL's Auxiliary Station FAQ:
•    Repeater construction
•    Repeater maintenance
•    Repeater management

Science & Theory of Radio Communications
•    Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
•    Propagation Theory
    o    AM, CW, FM, SSB
    o    Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

Scientific Research, Propagation Studies
•    HamSci - Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation:
•    NASA’s Radio JOVE:
•    Reverse Beacon Network:
•    Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network (WSPR)
    o    WSPRnet:
    o    WSPR Software:
•    See also: Science & Theory of Radio Communications
•    See also: Space Communications
•    See also: Weather Monitoring

Slow-Scan TV (SSTV)
•    Wikipedia’s Slow-Scan Television page:

Social Media
•    Podcasts, Videocasts
o    Amateur Radio Newsline:
    o    ARRL Audio News:
    o    Ham Nation:
    o    Ham Radio 360:
•    Facebook
    o    MDARC’s Facebook page:
•    YouTube
    o    Randy Hall’s, K7AGE, YouTube channel:

Software Defined Radio (SDR)
•    ARRL’s SDR page:
•    Wikipedia SDR page:
•    WebSDR:

Space & Near-Space Communications
•    Aircraft Scatter:
    o    AirScout:
    o    Nitehawk:
•    Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS):
•    Amateur Radio in Space (AMSAT):
    o    Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio (OSCAR):
•    Auroral Propagation
    o    Auroral Propagation Resource Center:
    o    Radio Society of Great Britain page:
•    CubeSat:
•    Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) or Moonbounce:
•    Meteor Scatter
    o    W4AS:
    o    Introduction to Meteor Scatter:
•    High Altitude Ballooning:
        Near space explorers and enthusiasts dedicated to the education and study of aerospace science via Amateur Radio High Altitude Ballooning.
•    Parachute Mobile
•    NASA’s Radio JOVE:
•    NOAA’s National Space Weather Prediction Center:
•    Wikipedia article:

Special Event Stations
•    Pacificon’s Special Event Station:
•    Dxpeditioning Basics, by Wayne Mills N7NG (PDF, 31 pages, 1994):
•    DX-pedition Wikipedia article:
•    National Parks on the Air:

Specialty Activities
•    Disability Access
    o    Courage Kenny Handiham Program:
Handiham Radio Club:
    o    ARRL Resources for the Disabled:

Transmitter Hunting (Fox Hunting, T-Hunting)
•    Wikipedia page:

Video Communications
•    See: Amateur Television (ATV)
•    See: Slow-Scan TV (SSTV) (still photos transmitted over radio)

Voice Communications
•    VHF/UHF Mobile Analog
•    VHF/UHF Mobile Digital
•    HF (DX) – SSB/AM

Weather Monitoring
•    SkyWarn:

Youth Support
•    ARRL’s Youth in Amateur Radio:
•    Scouting, Jamboree on the Air (JOTA):
•    K2BSA Amateur Radio Association:
•    Pacificon's Scouting page: